Forest Bathing


A friend posted recently to Facebook, thanking a 300+ year old tree in Philadelphia for lending her some of its energy in a difficult time. It’s a tree with many stories tied to it.

I know that feeling well, at least the part about the tree. There’s a tree at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens that I have regularly visited over my years in Brooklyn — a giant London Planetree that is likely not nearly as old as that oak, but still throbs with its own stories and energy. Whenever I show it to someone new and wrap my arms around it, they never fail to mimic me, resting their cheeks on its surface, listening and holding with their whole bodies.

That tree forms the apse of a large chapel created by a small but towering grove of Planetrees that perfectly demonstrate just what it was that all those early architects were aiming for with their cathedrals, lifting impossibly into the sky, arcs of light cutting through the buttresses and archways, humble humans gathered below in awe. I have sat and lain on the benches beneath that grove many times, in wonder and repose.

How can you not love a tree? All the life it carries, the impossibility of its always-reaching form, everything that it has to offer.

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